Santa Monica Lookout
|Santa Monica Pier Installation Provides Glimpse of Sea Level Rise||
By Lookout Staff
August 31, 2016 -- Visitors to the Santa Monica Pier don't need to wait for decades to experience the impacts of a major flood triggered by rising sea levels.
The Owl -- a new public engagement tool installed on the century old Pier -- provides the first "immersive virtual reality display" in Southern California used to illustrate the impact of climate change on the region, City officials announced Wednesday.
The display inside the Owl offers panoramic views of Santa Monica Beach that show how the coast and infrastructure would flood "due to sea level rise coupled with a large coastal storm," officials said.
“Sea level rise is a slow moving crisis that’s hard to see, and harder to get people energized around, but this technology will help bring it home in a very tangible way,” says Dean Kubani, the City's chief sustainability officer.
“Seeing firsthand how the change will impact us will be a very powerful experience for all of our beach lovers,” Kubani said.
Sea level rise in Southern California could increase by 5 to 24 inches by 2050 and by 17 to 66 inches by 2100, according to research being conducted by the City’s project partners, USC Sea Grant and the US Geological Services.
"As the sea level increases, the water line will move up the beach, permanently eroding the beach," officials said. "While the day to day impact may be mild, a further inland tide line can mean more impacts from major coastal storms."
Santa Monica planning officials are incorporating the data predicting future sea level rise into coastal zoning, officials said.
In addition, the City's Climate Action & Adaptation Plan will "develop measures to adapt to risks and hazards posed to existing buildings and infrastructure," officials said.
“From Malibu to the Port, sea level rise will impact local communities differently,” said Senior Planner Elizabeth Bar-El, the project manager for the update of Santa Monica’s Local Coastal Program.
It is important to use creative ways to help the community understand the impacts of climate change, Bar-El said.
For additional information about the Owl and the City’s efforts to prepare and adapt to sea level rise, visit www.sustainablesm.org/climate.
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